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Please recommend Columbia U./Morningside Heights Area Eats

r
rebeccahodgson May 31, 2000 11:21 AM

Calling for any and all chowhound suggestions - all cuisines/all prices. The more ideas the better. I searched these boards for Columbia and Morningside Heights and found practically nothing - it can't be true!

I will be a fulltime commuting student starting in the fall. I need good food to sustain me and my hard work! PLEASE DON'T FORCE ME TO USE THE MEAL PLAN!

Also, any convenient great places along the 1/9 and 2/3 between Columbia and the Staten Island ferry!

In return, I will faithfully report on your suggestions as well as share any personal finds and pans!

Thanks much.

  1. 9
    9-9 Jul 16, 2000 06:51 PM

    Metisse. It's located at 105th and Broadway, right next to Abby's Pub. Most French Bistros in NYC are overrated (like Balthazar's), but this one is utterly charming for its earthiness and coziness. Appetizers are around $8-10, if I remember correctly, and entrees go for about $18-20. They serve the traditional French bistro appetizers like escargots as well as tuna tartare, both of which are solid. I recently tried their veal with gnocchi entree. Gnocchi is made poorly at most NYC restaurants, but Metisse's was divine. It tasted better than the gnocchi at Babbo's. Their steak is also something worth trying.

    This restaurant won't make you swoon, but it never ever disappoints.

    11 Replies
    1. re: 9-9
      r
      Rachel Teplow Jul 25, 2000 12:40 AM

      If its not too late to reply, I want to second Metisse. I've only eaten there once, but the food was very good (not great) and the waiters were wonderful. It is a standout in the neighborhood.

      Other Morningside/Upper UWS places:

      Alouette, on Broadway near 98th (east side).

      Pampa, Amsterdam near 98th: Argentine steak, etc. Get it with the garlic-and-parsley fries and the chimichurri sauce.

      Gennaro, Amsterdam near 93rd: best Italian in the neighborhood

      Gabriela's, Amsterdam at 93rd for much better than average Mexican.

      Jerusalem Felafel, Broadway near 104th: best felafel

      Turkuaz at Broadway and 100th. Should break the curse at that corner.

      Also, and I haven't seen this mentioned yet, El Malecon, Amsterdam near 97th. Cheap Dominican. Great yellow rice, red beans, soups, daily specials (pot roast, roast pork, etc.), batidos (try guanabana), Cuban sandwiches, etc.

      I think there is a Haitian place at Amsterdam near 102nd.

      Enjoy your new neighborhood. Happy eating.

      1. re: Rachel Teplow
        m
        Michael Jul 25, 2000 01:44 AM

        I ate a couple of times at Metisse a few years ago and was underwhelmed (I thought it was merely good and overpriced) - but then, it was a few years ago.

        I have previously mentioned El Malecon and their delicious pollo a la brasa on these boards. I also like their mondongo, chivo, and carne asada. Nice oxtail, too.

        Pampa is good (maybe very good - well-cooked, nice meat, good Argentinian wines, Italian-style appetizers, etc.) and reliable, but don't go there unless you're hungry enough to eat a horse.

        I haven't been there for some time, but I think Sal's Pizzeria on Broadway between 101 and 102 St. IIRC deserves mention.

        And then there's the taco truck on 96 St.

        I went to the Afghan place on 102nd St. or so with my girlfriend a few weeks ago, and we both agreed that it was mediocre and did not deserve a second visit.

        1. re: Michael
          e
          Elaine Jul 25, 2000 11:04 AM

          Welcome to the neighborhood - now get ready to get your Metrocard/cab fare out if you want to eat out.

          The dearth of really good restaurants in the area means that the good ones (and even the mediocre ones) are packed.

          Gennaro's (92nd and Amsterdam) is probably the best restaurant in the neighborhood - great antipasto, good veal chops, yummy meaty pastas - but they don't take reservations and there's always a line, with no bar or even a bench to wait in.

          Turkuaz (100th and Broadway) has engendered a lot of hype in the 'hood, but after eating there twice I'm forced to conclude that everything but the appetizers suck.

          Alouette (mentioned above) is always packed and only so-so.

          Pampa is always usually packed and its menu - enormous helpings of grilled meat - lacks interest when you are not suffering from an iron deficiency.

          What's a person to do? Enjoy the various Latin American restaurants (Flor de Mayo - no atmosphere, but yummy cheap roast chicken with soupy beans and sinful plaintains (don't order anything else); Cafe con Leche for so-so food but a convivial atmosphere); get takeout from the above-mentioned Jerusalem Falafel or Afghan Kebab House (slighted above, but fried pumpkin or spinach appetizers and chicken mixed with vegatables over brown rice are tasty and pleasantly light); grab a slice from Sal & Carmine's (B'way & 102) and brush up on your cooking skills!

          There's a neighborhood protest going on at the moment to prevent another drug superstore from moving into the area; personally, I think those of us on the Upper UWS should band together to campaign for MORE AND BETTER RESTAURANTS. The demand is clearly there....

          1. re: Elaine
            j
            jen kalb Jul 25, 2000 11:48 AM

            Have you tried Dahlia (the tapas place at 108th and Amst) yet? We were pleasantly surprised tho it wasn't cheap.

            1. re: jen kalb
              j
              Joe Schumacher Jul 26, 2000 09:39 PM

              A block south from Dahlia is Taqueria y Fonda La Mexicana for good, inexpensive Mexicoan food. Last night I had two tacos (one carnitas, one pastor), a large, cold glass of Horchata, and homemade chips and salsa - all for about $6. It was a tasty and satisfying meal.

              On other visits I've had the beef burrito (warning: they aren't kidding when they say "Giant"), and the Chile Ajo with both were really good.

              1. re: Joe Schumacher
                l
                Leslie Brenner Jul 26, 2000 11:51 PM

                Wondering why no one has mentioned La Rosita, I went back and read posts from last spring and earlier last year that signalled that it had gone downhill. I lived in the neighborhood for ten years or so, and used to eat there several times a week (usually breakfast), but hadn't been back in many years. Anyway, I went there last weekend, and ate very well. Breakfast was the same as ever (maybe I missed the downhill years? I think I stopped eating there around the time La Casita opened), and I had a shrimp asopao that was excellent. Someone mentioned in a previous thread that it's never been a place for seafood, but this was really pretty good. Roast pork was good too. I didn't recognize any faces of the waitstaff, but service was friendly and efficient, though we were a big unruly party at 12:30 on a Sunday.

                1. re: Leslie Brenner
                  j
                  Jeremy Jul 27, 2000 08:33 AM

                  I'm glad to hear anything good about La Rosita; it was one of my favorite places when I lived in the neighborhood -- I will try it out next time I'm up there.

        2. re: Rachel Teplow
          d
          Denis May 4, 2001 03:53 PM

          The Haitian place is Krik Krak, and last time I was there it was very good.

        3. re: 9-9
          l
          Lisa Z Jul 25, 2000 10:01 AM

          While I like (but don't love) Metisse, I would NOT recommend ordering the steak -- tasteless, rubbery.

          1. re: Lisa Z
            a
            Alan Divack Jul 25, 2000 07:04 PM

            We ate at Metisse shortly after it opened several years ago. The meal was good, with one very jarring note. Several of the sauces were over reduced stock. IT was as if someone had took the idea "flour is sauces = bad" to a ridiculous extreme. The meal was the best arguement for floury pasty sauces that I could imagine.

            The desserts stand out in my mind, however, as being simple, elegant and delicious, esp. a brioche topped with caramelized apples and creme fraiche.

            This was all quite a while ago, however.

          2. re: 9-9
            e
            Elaine Dec 13, 2000 04:53 PM

            I tried Metisse for the first time this weekend, after poking on CH for new 'hood ideas and finding good reviews... UGH. Presumably the several favorable Hounds were not insane - so this is a DOWNHILL ALERT.

            The space is cozy and the owner warm and friendly (inexplicably crowded - probably lack of "safe" "non-ethnic" local options). But, the wines by the glass were undrinkable, the "garlic sausage" app an $8.00 assortment of 4 slivers of grilled salami (tasted like Hebrew National) and greasy underdone potatoes drowning in paprika. My mahi-mahi was tough and flavorless, the coconut rice simply white, the sauce nonexistent and the sparse handful of veg tasteless and possibly frozen in origin. My boyfriend's $22 rack of lamb was tiny and tough, and the red wine reduction was ... well ... red... no richness, no warmth, no subtlety. Service was rushed, competent and nice enough - nothing to write home about. No bargain at all, no reason to go, presumably Hounds do not crave basic basic "French" food so badly they won't get in the subway to go further afield... It's back to Sal & Carmine's and Flor de Mayo for me!!!

          3. s
            Steven Stern Jun 11, 2000 01:51 AM

            I lived in the neighborhood for a while a year ago, so some additions and comments on an already full and useful thread. (I haven't been back since I moved away [which in itself says something about the food situation there], so consider these all somewhat dated.)

            First of all, accept that nothing up there is best of type, and the lousiness quotient is particularly high. There's a captive student audience, so people can get away with a lot, and do. With some resourcefulness, one can do OK, however.

            As a general rule, avoid any place that serves brunch, that seems fancied up for the grad-student-on-a-date crowd.

            I agree with the general feeling about the Mill: not the best Korean by far, but a lot more honest than most of what you'll get up there. Casserole-type things like the squid tend to be better than grilled meats, in my experience.

            I thought Tomo was just fine for sushi (they do a nice chirashi), and a very pleasant place to be--nice decor, nice vibe.

            Amir's really isn't very good, but it'll do in a pinch, especially on those rare occasions when they actually cook up the falafel fresh, rather than giving you the cold stuff that's sitting in the fryer basket.

            Don't ever, EVER go to the Ollie's on 112th. (If you absolutely have to have Chinese food, Dynasty on 110th is (barely) the least of many evils.

            I think Ed Levine, in his New York Eats guidebook, goes on about the roast beef at Mama Joy's. I never thought it was all -that- praiseworthy, but it is above average. A well-stocked deli, and a fine place to grab a sandwich.

            The bagels at the place on the east side of B'way at 110th, however, are as good as Ed Levine thinks they are.

            Tom's is the one of the worst coffee shops in the New York. Only go if you want the answer to the question, "what could go wrong with a grilled cheese?"

            Pizza taste is, I suppose, a particularly personal thing, but as I've said in another post, I think Koronet is nasty. Big, but nasty. I would walk past a hundred Koronets to get to Sal & Carmine's.

            I once had a decent burger at Le Monde, and I'm willing to believe the mussels are OK, but I think the place is kind of silly. (See brunch rule, above.)

            La Rosita isn't actually -good-, but many plates of eggs and rice and beans there have fixed many hangovers of mine, and it's actually the place I miss most.

            If you want to walk uptown a bit, Floridita on B'way just above 125th has my favorite Cuban sandwich and cafe con leche and guava & cream cheese pastries. The various specials and full meals are pedestrian, but cheap and satisfying. (And I think you can get a mug of Bud for a dollar.)

            Right before I moved away, a place called Toast opened up on B'way at LaSalle. I had a couple of very, very good sandwiches there, and I hope it's still open and thriving. They seemed to have absolutely no idea how to run a restaurant, but it was obvious they cared about food.

            I've had good Ethiopian food at Awash on 106th & Amsterdam, but haven't been in a long time. There's another Ethiopian on Amsterdam around 120th: I've never been, but might be worth checking out out.

            I have vague memories of the Afghan Kabob House people opening up a place on the east side of B'way around 103rd or so. It opened just before I moved. Did it last?

            There's some talk on another thread about a new Turkish place opening on 100th.

            The taco truck on 96th and the one in front of the Metro Theater (Or is it only one truck? I never knew.) are worth the walk.

            Anyway...sorry to go on, good luck, and comfort yourself withthe knowledge that if you ever move up there, you'll be close enough to Fairway to make all the restaurant difficulties worthwhile.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Steven Stern
              j
              Jeremy Osner Jun 11, 2000 07:55 AM

              "I have vague memories of the Afghan Kabob House people
              opening up a place on the east side of B'way around 103rd or so. It opened just before I moved. Did it last?"

              I was walking up Broadway yesterday and was surprised to see an Afghan Kebab House in the low 100's -- so yes, it did. Must have opened after my time in the neighborhood.

              AFA Rosita's, I would agree with your assessment 12 years ago; but I think they've gone way downhill and are no longer a pleasant hangover cure.

              1. re: Jeremy Osner
                s
                shane Jun 11, 2000 05:17 PM

                check the EGNYC--Tiemann Oasis is a great and unique, truly mighty place, not far from the 125th street 1/9 stop.

                Also, the restaurant on the NW corner of 106th (La Casita???) and Bway serves up a pretty respectable Cuban sandwhich.

                Tried a new-looking place on the same block as West End Gate (I think, although maybe a block down, right next to Nacho Mama's in any case). It's called Le Monde, and it's not great but not terrible and you can certainly do worse in the area. Decent mashed-potatoes with the gralicky-chicken, and only abpout $8 overpriced.

                enjoy, S

              2. re: Steven Stern
                j
                Jessica Jun 12, 2000 09:32 AM

                Alas, I believe Mama Joy's has closed, or will soon if it hasn't already.

              3. c
                Cathy Jun 9, 2000 10:09 PM

                (sound of cackling over my computer)
                I'm so glad you asked this question because I'm working at St Lukes during June and July and have decided that since I'm commuting from the Bronx, I deserve a nice lunch twice a week.
                So far I've been to Tomo Sushi (standard food, but very cool and mellow inside for those hot summer days) and had a spectacular plate of mussels at Le Monde ($9.95 for an enormous plate) eaten with much gusto under sunny skies out front - plus I was so stuffed I couldn't touch the frites so I took 'em home for dinner. I swear, it's worth packing PB&J for 3 days then splurging on these moules frites (with the fresh squeezed lemonade) rather than blowing the ridiculous $5 it seems to take to get a sandwich around here.
                Also, can't beat the pequena ice from the Coco Helado lady outside the clinic for dessert - a mere 50 cents. Coconut, mango or cherry, your choice. Grande is a buck. A hundred times better than those yuppie $2 fruit on a stick things you get out of the freezer case.

                1. a
                  alison Jun 8, 2000 10:26 PM

                  Maybe my eyes (or my tastebuds) are going bad, but won't anyone else recommend The Mill (113th-ish and Broadway)? It used to be a greasy spoon diner that served egg creams and slowly evolved into a Korean restaurant that might still serve lime rickeys. Went there a year ago and really enjoyed a few meals there.Good luck!

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: alison
                    l
                    Lisa Z Jun 9, 2000 10:44 AM

                    Thanks for providing details on The Mill - I thought it was further south.

                    I think we also overlooked the Vietnamese place on the northwest corner of Bway and 88th or so. (Apologies for my lousy recollection of names and exact locations.) I give it my vote for best conversion of a coffee shop. Great grilled shrimp salad and papaya/beef salad. And there's the fun and excitement of the spring roll lottery -- will they be absolutely amazing or pretty lousy? (The odds may be worse than the win-your-meal drawing at Mimi's Macaroni, but I can't resist playing every time.)

                    1. re: alison
                      j
                      Jeremy Jun 9, 2000 11:03 AM

                      I'll second that -- I went to The Mill last week (first time since my college days) and quite enjoyed my bibimbap.

                      1. re: Jeremy
                        9
                        9-9 Jul 16, 2000 06:38 PM

                        Although your safest bet for Korean food is at 32nd street, the Mill is fantastic for their dol sub bimbimbop. It's served in a raging hot clay pot that can pretty much keep your dish extremely warm until you finish it. And the sauce they use to complement the dish is tastier than that of other Korean restaurants. However, I do suggest adding a little extra sesame oil while you're there.

                        The dish is not exactly what one has in mind for these summer days, but perfect for those windy wintery days.

                        1. re: 9-9
                          m
                          Michael Jul 17, 2000 02:32 AM

                          When did you last go to The Mill? My parents and I went a couple of weeks ago, and he got a rubbery and totally inedible octopus dish (I wanted to send it back, but his blood pressure was up and he couldn't risk any excitement). My mother got the bibimbop and, though it would have been better with the hot sauce (which she can't tolerate), it was just about totally tasteless without it (not the case in Bop on Bowery as I remember, for example). I had a dish made with smelt. I asked the waitress if smelt was full of small bones. She said it wasn't. It was.

                          This was my first trip to The Mill, but my parents have eaten there many times. They noted that the menu was much longer, and this, combined with the clear difference they noticed in the quality of the food, caused them to conclude that the restaurant must be under new management with a cook who doesn't know what s/he's doing.

                          I have to say that my smelt was satisfactory.

                          Your comments?

                          1. re: Michael
                            9
                            9-9 Jul 17, 2000 12:43 PM

                            Admittingly, I haven't been at the Mill for months now. The thing about that place is that it's really hit-or-miss, mostly misses. I only go for the bimbimbop in the clay pot (never had the smelt). And true it's tasteless without the hot sauce, but with it, it's great. Their other dishes, I can't really speak for but I remember their dumplings being inedible and I'm not surprised that your parents didn't enjoy those other dishes.

                      2. re: alison
                        d
                        David Nadle Jun 9, 2000 02:40 PM

                        I'll recommend the Mill. It's good but it's menu is a bit limited. The thing is most restuaruants on 32nd St. are a lot better.

                        1. re: David Nadle
                          m
                          MU Jun 9, 2000 03:43 PM

                          You can find better and more varied Korean food on 32nd, but at the Mill you won't find the automatic anti-gringo attitude that non-Asians sometimes experience in Midtown Koreans. And the Mill does solid renditions of the standards, great casseroles, and decent panchan. This makes it a good and friendly place for newbies to Korean food.

                          1. re: MU
                            j
                            jen kalb Jun 9, 2000 03:51 PM

                            and, remembering the original inquiry, an excellent lunch option for a Columbia U. student.

                            1. re: MU
                              d
                              David Nadle Jun 12, 2000 09:28 AM

                              The folks at the Mill are very nice, but I've never had any negative attiude from the restaurants on 32nd St., so I can't really include that as a reason to favor the Mill. The menus usually have English and big color photos. Occasionally you will have language misunderstandings; that's not the same as "attitude." (If you want to see attitude, check out the guy at La Caridad.) The food at the Mill is good, but the food in the 32nd street vicinity (ceteris paribus) is much better.

                              That doesn't mean don't eat at the Mill! I eat there all the time (usu. takeout), and far be it from me, who stops at Koronet rather than walking to S&C, to discount proximity. Proximity is the real reason to eat at the Mill, as jen kalb has pointed out.

                              BTW, to the guy who recommended Mama Joy's, I'm sorry to say that they closed.

                        2. d
                          David Nadle Jun 7, 2000 11:03 AM

                          I've lived in the area nine years, and I think it peaked, food wise, a few years ago. Here's my picks.

                          Cheap:
                          Amir's Falafel - good, very affordable
                          Dynasty - inconsistent, but still best bet for chinese
                          Flor de Mayo - best sit-down chicken
                          Indian Cafe - not bad
                          Koronet - best pizza slice
                          Rainbow Chicken - best take-out chicken
                          V&T - best pizza pie/delivery

                          Moderate:
                          Fish - my area favorite
                          Gennaro - go early! excellent moderate Italian
                          Mama Mexico - okay area Mexican
                          Metisse - pleasant, pedestrian French

                          Avoid at all costs:
                          Burger King on 110th - worst Burger King on Earth
                          Chickenfest - just plain bad
                          Cafe Amiana - run by and staffed with idiots
                          Nacho Mama's - hated it before it burnt down, haven't been back since.
                          Pronto Pizza - Blame Columbia for this monstrosity

                          28 Replies
                          1. re: David Nadle
                            l
                            Lisa Z Jun 7, 2000 01:13 PM

                            It's a little far from Columbia for a slice, but my favorite pizza in the nabe is at Cafe Viva on Bway between 97th and 98th. It's vegetarian/kosher, so no sausage or pepperoni. All sorts of fake cheese available for vegans, too.

                            1. re: Lisa Z
                              d
                              Dave Feldman Jun 8, 2000 01:18 AM

                              David,

                              Agree that Cafe Viva is a valuable restaurant, and not just because of the pizza (love their corn meal crust) but also the pastas. The doneness of the pasta is unpredictable, but the tomato-based sauces tend to be remarkably good for a pizza place, and the vegetarian sausage is actually edible.

                              But what about Sal & Carmine's? Don't you think it's superior to V&T or Viva?

                              1. re: Dave Feldman
                                j
                                Jim Leff Jun 8, 2000 01:40 AM

                                FWIW, Cafe Viva just barely missed the cut for my book. Just wasn't intriguing enough to be worth a trip (my guiding threshold). But it is one of the better eats in the nabe.

                                1. re: Jim Leff
                                  d
                                  Dave Feldman Jun 9, 2000 01:50 AM

                                  Jim (or anyone),

                                  Do you know the *story* behind Cafe Viva? Why is it vegetarian? Other than some free alternative-health newspapers, there are no other cultural markers that indicate that Viva is the type of place that offers gluten pizza?

                                  1. re: Dave Feldman
                                    j
                                    Jim Leff Jun 9, 2000 02:08 AM

                                    The term "vegetarian" is a kiss of death. "Wheat gluten" is worse; it's about as un-enticing an ingredient as one could possibly imagine.

                                    Consider: I raved in my book over a place called Healthy Tofu that's just extraordinary. Nobody's ever mentioned trying it to me personally or on these boards, and no other writer has ever picked up on it, even though I bent over backwards to explain that you needn't be a health food faddist to enjoy it (and made light of the fact that the name "Healthy Tofu" is about as appetizing as "Trip to the Dentist").

                                    Health does not sell. Which bums me out...I'd love to see more whole grains and greens on more kinds of menues. There's no reason at all why we should have to choose between delicious unhealthy restaurants and awful ghetto-ized health food places. thank goodness for Cafe viva....and I understand why they keep it quiet.

                                    1. re: Jim Leff
                                      l
                                      Lauren Jun 9, 2000 09:50 AM

                                      You're totally right. Even the words grains and greens are most likely making people grimace. I'm envisioning the amazing 8-green saute that I cook frequently and all kinds of tasty grain pilafs with lots of spices and things, but I fear most people just think, "Uggh." It's frustrating- I think I'd weep with joy if whole grains and greens stormed the culinary world. But until that day comes, please let me know where I can find Healthy Tofu!! I promise to go immediately and sit in the window eating soy products and grinning like a fool for all the world to see.

                                      1. re: Lauren
                                        l
                                        Lisa Z Jun 9, 2000 10:32 AM

                                        All this talk of healthy food reminds me of the Ayurveda Cafe, on Amsterdam and 95.

                                        Good, if mushy, veggie Indian food, with a full dinner for under 10 bucks. Lunch is similarly cheap. The owner and staff must be some of the nicest people around.

                                        They opened another place further down Amsterdam -- around 90th -- which has a more varied menu (and is more expensive). Also healthy food, but tasty, unlike nearby Mana, which is the epitome of everything that meat/fat/dairy eaters hate about vegarian restaurants.

                                        1. re: Lisa Z
                                          j
                                          Jim Leff Jun 9, 2000 12:04 PM

                                          Lisa (and everybody else)

                                          Please change the message title when discussion drifts. We'd rather you didn't do it like ALL the time (e.g. "Peter Luger: Nah, Dave, I Don't Agree!"), but when the topic has really gone into different territory it'd help those browsing the index to decide what to tune in to.

                                          Or better yet, simply start a new thread. That would have been the perfect move on this one.

                                        2. re: Lauren
                                          j
                                          Jim Leff Jun 9, 2000 11:57 AM

                                          See "Healthy Tofu", a new thread on the Outer Boroughs board.

                                          1. re: Jim Leff
                                            s
                                            shane Jun 9, 2000 10:17 PM

                                            Jim, I kind of diagree with your argument here, as there is a booming faction of the youth-pop sensibility that prides itself on eating strictly vegan. It runs the gamut of personalities, too. A healthy majority of my friends and acquaintances either are or were vegans or vegetarians.

                                            The lengths that some kids will go to to avoid eating any animal products (like, they're bummed to find out that the soy patty at Zen Palate has egg whites) is impressive, if not personally enticing, and the more organic the description of the restaurant, the better! More than a few people I know consider Angelika Kitchen to be the best, their definitive favorite, restaurant in New York City. My omniverous spirit is a bit bewildered by it, but hey.

                                            On a semi-related note: for free vegan cooking and the cheapest vacation possible, may I direct chowhounds to the Nat'l Rainbow Gathering, to be held this year in the Montana/Idaho region around the July 4th Holliday. Directions to be announced soon (see link).

                                            The chow is provided by kitchens spread out throughout a national forest, inhabited by around 25,000 people. There is no money (or alcohol) allowed in the gathering and the food is almost strictly vegan and even I love it. If anyone winds up going, don't miss Jerusalem's rousing Shabbat service and dinner. And if anyone wants to learn more, maybe we should start a new thread.

                                            peace.

                                            Link: http://www.welcomehome.org

                                      2. re: Dave Feldman
                                        m
                                        MU Jun 9, 2000 08:04 AM

                                        Hmm. I've never seen 'gluten pizza' at Cafe Viva. Ick. I have seen (and eaten) a shitake, calamata and marinated tofu slice, though, which was excellent. I don't know what they do to that tofu, but my guess is they freeze it to produce a feta-like texture, then marinate it in soy and garlic.

                                        Another reason that they are vegetarian is that they can then cater to those who keep kosher, of whom there are many on the UWS.

                                        1. re: MU
                                          j
                                          jen kalb Jun 9, 2000 10:59 AM

                                          just guessing, but maybe it was "gluten free?" tho how that would work for pizza, I dont know.

                                          1. re: MU
                                            d
                                            Dave Feldman Jun 10, 2000 03:12 AM

                                            Sorry, I was kidding about the "gluten pizza."

                                            I've passed the Viva on the LES many times but never entered its hallowed halls. Is the menu the same as the upside branch?

                                            Has anyone ever met the owner of Viva? It seems to run flawlessly, but I never feel the presence of an owner, at least at the UWS location.

                                            1. re: Dave Feldman
                                              m
                                              MU Jun 12, 2000 12:01 PM

                                              It's similar, at least for the pizza; I don't remember if they have the pasta & salad options available uptown.

                                              I remember talking to the owner several years ago, trying to convince him that he needed to open a store in the location of the former Ben's Pizza (3rd St & 7th Ave) in Park Slope. I was unsuccessful.

                                              1. re: MU
                                                j
                                                Jim Leff Jun 13, 2000 02:39 AM

                                                "I remember talking to the owner several years ago, trying to convince him that he needed to open a store in the location of the former Ben's Pizza (3rd St & 7th Ave) in Park Slope. I was unsuccessful"

                                                Shame for him. They'd have been a brilliant success there. Park Slope residents have actually been trying valiently for years to lure good restaurateurs to their nabe. But restaurant people, like many businesspeople, tend to be afraid to be first. Like the first to serve truly good food on 7th Avenue.

                                      3. re: Dave Feldman
                                        l
                                        Lisa Z Jun 8, 2000 05:39 PM

                                        If Sal & Carmine's is the place with the gigantic slices that used to be between 96th and 97th then, no, I don't think it's better than Cafe Viva. Their pizza always seems to get written up, but I don't think it's anything special.

                                        Would love to hear why you think it's tops.

                                        1. re: Lisa Z
                                          s
                                          Steven Jun 8, 2000 06:13 PM

                                          No! The place with the gigantic slices is Koronet at 110th. Myself, I think it's not simply "not anything special," but rather actively awful.

                                          Sal & Carmine's is another story. It's as good as everyone says.

                                          1. re: Steven
                                            d
                                            David Nadle Jun 8, 2000 06:26 PM

                                            Sal & Carmine's is good, but it's not so good that I'd walk all the way down from Columbia, past Koronet or V&T, just to get some.

                                            BTW Patsy's 74th & Columbus makes a nice pizza, and has great arugula.

                                            1. re: Steven
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                                              Lisa Z Jun 9, 2000 10:21 AM

                                              All right, I'll give S&C another try. However, when it comes to pizza I'm more into crust and sauce than cheese.

                                            2. re: Lisa Z
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                                              Dave Feldman Jun 9, 2000 01:45 AM

                                              Sal & Carmine's is one of the most gratifying write-ups in A-Hound's book for at least two reasons.

                                              One, he found a place that I had passed many times and had never visited. Shame on me.

                                              Second, Jim captures perfectly why I love it. So, without permission, may I quote the last three sentences of his comments?

                                              "Crust doesn't distract; it simply provides the canvas for this artistic study in mozarella. Sauce binds and activates entirely behind the scenes, providing a subliminal catalyst for the slice as a whole. When at Sal and Carmine's, one must remember to eat (conceptually) from the cheese down, not from the crust up."

                                              If the crust of S&C's is good, not great, I have to profess my love for the crust of the pizza makers, especially the oldest one, who has a great sense of humor.

                                              S&C's is between 101 & 102 on Broadway, on the west side of the street. I'd recommend a cheese slice/pizza, and make sure to eat it hot and fresh out of the oven.

                                              1. re: Dave Feldman
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                                                Lisa Z Jun 15, 2000 06:05 PM

                                                Well, I tried Sal & Carmine's yesterday and was beyond disappointed.

                                                It seems that if you don't get it fresh out of the oven (which I didn't) the crust metamorphosizes into a tasteless dense mass with the consistency of chewing gum. There was no hint of tomato in the tiny dab of sauce and the cheese was unremarkable. The slice was so salty, greasy and chewy that it barely resembled pizza.

                                                Perhaps I hit it on a bad day, or maybe there are people who prefer their pizza to taste like this.

                                                1. re: Lisa Z
                                                  s
                                                  Stevn Stern Jun 15, 2000 09:52 PM

                                                  Huh. Well, I'm a fan (and have been long before I knew about this site), but I'm not going to make a case. Just further proof, I think, that pizza preferences are even more idiosyncratic and personal than most taste-related things. Maybe that's because everybody in New York has eaten tons and tons of pizza, so expertise comes easy, and therefore develops along particularly individualistic lines. At least more so than (dare I say it?) wine. And eating a slice is casual, intimate, and situational...a lot like listening to a pop song. So pizza judgment is less like Ella Fitzgerald vs. Britney Spears and more like Cheap Trick vs. The Human League (sorry to get generation-specific; feel free to substitute equivalent cheesy-but-pleasurable pop music references).

                                                  Or maybe you just got a lousy slice.

                                                  Anyway, sorry to use your cruddy pizza expeience as a means to work through thoughts initiated by another thread. For what it's worth, I think the goat cheese and pesto slice at Freddy & Pepper's on Amsterdam & 74th is pretty tasty.

                                                  1. re: Stevn Stern
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                                                    Lisa Z Jun 15, 2000 10:11 PM

                                                    Ah, you caught my veiled reference to the wine spool! I was going to refer to it more directly, but figured we'd done enough disputing about taste.

                                                    1. re: Lisa Z
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                                                      Steven Stern Jun 15, 2000 10:31 PM

                                                      Yup. Though, really, almost -everything- we do here is disputing about taste. It just seems more fun when it's less abstract.

                                                      I look forward to hearing more about your pizza explorations.

                                                  2. re: Lisa Z
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                                                    Dave Feldman Jun 16, 2000 01:43 AM

                                                    Sorry that you were disappointed with Sal & Carmine's, Liza. Now I don't want to sound too anal, but remember the last paragraph of my original post to you? Why in the heck should you? So, with the power of copy and paste, here it is:

                                                    *********************
                                                    S&C's is between 101 & 102 on Broadway, on the west side of the street. I'd recommend a cheese slice/pizza, and make sure to eat it hot and fresh out of the oven.
                                                    **********************

                                                    I learned quickly that an S&C slice must be hot and barring emergencies, not a reheated slice. I've been known to lurk until the last plain slice has been eaten, and pounce on a brand new pizza coming out of the oven.

                                                    The tomato sauce is a minor note in a S&C pizza, but it does contribute. Give it one more try, perhaps when you want to order a whole pizza. If you require a pizza that has a higher tomato to cheese ratio, you might never warm to S&C.

                                                    1. re: Dave Feldman
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                                                      Jim Leff Jun 16, 2000 03:59 AM

                                                      In keeping with the overall cantankerousness of the boards this week, I'm going to disagree with you even though we both agree more on Sal and Carmines' quality than we do with Lisa!

                                                      1. Leff's First Law of Baking states that ANYTHING straight out of an oven tastes pretty good. Pencils. Dioxin. You name it. That's why that cruddy "pop-n-fresh dough" cookie stuff tastes relatively edible while warm (and then reveals itself for the utter poison it is five minutes later). Anytime someone tells me about something that's got to be tried fresh-from-oven in order to be appreciated, I get mighty suspicious. And, in fact, I like reheated slices at S&C just fine. Of course they're not as good as fresh-baked, but, once again, consider Leff's First Law! (there's a frying corollary, of course)

                                                      2. Lisa buried the real reason. Sal and Carmines' is salty pizza, and some people don't like salty pizza. Two other very controversial salty pizzas are Attilio's in New Brunswick and the place on First between 57 and 58. All three make pizza I've raved about for years, and all three have mystified me when 25% of people (with otherwise good taste) provided negative feedback. I finally figured it out...it's a Salt Thing.

                                                      Salty pizza is not just salty pizza. The salt emphasizes certain flavor nuances--and ones I like, at that. To some people, though, it just tastes....salty.

                                                      Big divide. Almost as gaping as the dense versus puffy bagel chasm.

                                                      ciao

                                                      1. re: Jim Leff
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                                                        Pete Feliz Jun 16, 2000 04:55 PM

                                                        My take on Sal and Carmines's is --very salty! Once I add black pepper, heaven in a slice is reached. My take on Attilio's in New Brunswick--excellent sauce ruined by a plastic cheese. Inpadonable sin. Maybe, that may have been the day they were slumming or the after effects of a bad day at Six Flags.

                                                        Pete

                                                        1. re: Jim Leff
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                                                          Dave Feldman Jun 17, 2000 12:41 AM

                                                          We've already discussed the saltiness of S&C's, and I thinkthat is why many people don't like it.

                                                          But I can't agree about everything tasting good right out of the oven. My gosh, I've sure had my fill of awful doughnuts right out of the oven (and not just Krispy Kremes, that aren't ever IN an oven), tasteless, cottony bagels and breads, and for that matter, gloppy pies.

                                                          But I've found huge differences among pizzas on how effectively they reheat and how good they taste cold the next day. Most ultrathin-crust pizzas tend to suffer dramatically when eaten cold. Cheesy ones are usually great the next day cold. But I've found those with a high cheese to tomato & crust ratio get funky when reheated after lying around.

                                          2. l
                                            Lisa Z May 31, 2000 01:09 PM

                                            It's relatively slim pickins. A few that I go to follow. The streets are approximate!

                                            Ollie's on 116/Bway has pretty good Chinese, and it's very convenient!

                                            The Heights at 111(?)/Bway has inexpensive, decent "regular" food -- salads, sandwiches, burgers, burritos -- and a great rooftop deck in the summer.

                                            Spoonbread Too has awesome Southern fare. I think it's on 110th, east of Amsterdam.

                                            JoAn is a nice little Japanese place on the west side of Bway somewhere around 100th, but I haven't been there in a while. There's also a little Korean place near that, but I forget the street.

                                            Of course there's Tom's diner of Seinfeld fame at Bway around 110.

                                            Fish, Bway and 107-ish, is another decent local place.

                                            I was very unimpressed with Henry's, which recently opened on Bway near 105th.

                                            There are bunch of inexpensive Latin places on Bway in the mid 100's -- La Rosita is a good bet, and Flor del Mayo has a great deal on tasty chicken with rice and beans.

                                            Farther south is Pampa at Amsterdam and 97th for great, inexpensive Argentinian beef/meat. Well worth the wait. Don't pass up the fries with parsley and garlic.

                                            I think this site has talked about Gabriela's -- very good Mexican at Amsterdam and 94th or so -- and Cafe Con Leche at Amsterdam and 95th.

                                            Keep us posted as you venture around!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Lisa Z
                                              j
                                              jen kalb May 31, 2000 02:04 PM

                                              These are all oldies; if its still there, Amir's (Prince's) felafel, a hole-in-the-wall on Bway, produces a good product at a price which works for a student - in addition to their tasty felafel, I liked their kofte kebab and kibbe. And if they still have that good, crude hot sauce, go for it.
                                              There's always the Hungarian Pastry Shop across from the Cathedral on amsterdam, for coffee and a pastry, V&T's (theres a big dispute on this - I never liked their pizza at all; other chowhounds think its great. As I recall it there is a store called Samad's on the W. side of Bway between 111-110 where I bought Joe Speikerman's Swiss peasant bread, and decent cheeses and pates in the early 80's - might be a good place to pick up provisions on the way home from school. La Tacita d'Oro, another spanish-chinese greasy spoon on Broadway down toward 100th St, West side, for chiccharones,fried or roast pork and beans, sancocho, etc. We have always enjoyed the greek place on 113th street between bway and amst for simple stuff like saganaki, greek salads and moussaka - as I recall they had good greek bread and a garden in back - it certainly doesn't come up anyway near the best greek places in town, and a lot of people diss it totally, but I have had plenty of tasty meals there. Ive never known anyone who went to Tom's except for breakfast...the west side is better for food shopping than eating...why nor organize a stop at Zabars, Fairway and/or Citarella on your way home. All between the 86th and 79th street local stations. Even H&H bagels (I can hear the hisses!) are wonderful to eat hot, while riding the train downtown. PS you definitely dont want to take the CU food plan!

                                              1. re: jen kalb
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                                                pam May 31, 2000 02:24 PM

                                                I second tacita d'oro - get the house chicken with rice & beans for less than 5 dollars.

                                                1. re: pam
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                                                  Elyse Jun 4, 2000 11:08 PM

                                                  Try "Zula" for Ethiopian on Amsterdam at about 123rd street.

                                                2. re: jen kalb
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                                                  Jeremy May 31, 2000 04:57 PM

                                                  I've always preferred Jerusalem Falafel, on Bway and something like 104th, to Amir's. And I have fond memories of Rainbow Chicken on 109th?, but I couldn't tell you for sure whether these are based on the food actually being any good.

                                                  Skip La Rosita; it used to be great but no more. I like the Ethiopian place on Amsterdam a block or two south of St. John's Cathedral (so maybe 108th?) and there's supposed to be good Ethiopian farther north on Amsterdam. Excellent soul food/diner on 125th east of Amsterdam, but I don't remember the name.

                                                  Koronet Pizza is a good place to stop for a slice if you're hungry; the slices are big and, if not high cuisine, honest. And I second Hungarian Pastry Shop as a place to sit, read, watch people.

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